Thursday, December 23, 2010

I blame Jon. And Tony. And Jerry. But mostly Jon.

Well, it's decided -- fishing the Kvichak River in August 2011 with Tony and Jerry. They found a dirt cheap lodge (in relative terms) -- the Clearwater Lodge -- which they fished two years ago. Basic but fishy. Not a place to take the ladies but will work for sleeping and fishing. Rinse and repeat. All in, around $4K door-to-door based upon their current special offer.

Of course, I need a weapon for the trip so an early Christmas present for me.

I expect to have to test this by working on Stripers in the spring. Looking forward to learning to cast this beast.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Saturday morning. Deerfield River. Trout.

Saturday morning I watched the sun rise. I was on the road early when the sky was still deepest black. I would not have been driving north at such an hour if not for the promise of good company on the water and trout tugging on the line but there was an additional bonus that I savored as I drove towards the eastern sky.

Over the hour it took for the orange orb to peer over the horizon I saw the most amazing show of light. The sky darkened from black to that rich, deep blue. Then the first streaks of orange and red yielded to yellows, golds and pale blues. Striking.

Our sport offers the chance to see some amazing places but the landscapes that we most often view are familiar versus exotic. And sometimes those familiar views are the most rewarding. Especially when seen in a new light.

Saturday I fished the Deerfield River with Tom Harrison of Harrison Anglers. His brother Dan had taunted me earlier in the week with texts of large fish (texting pictures or would it be picting?). I was planning to fish on Saturday regardless of the weather as the womenfolk of my wife's clan were gathering at the house for cookie baking. The results are worthy of lingering but the making is a bit like that of sausage. There's emotion and angst and other such non-male things rather than disgusting meat objects but, trust me, it's the same.

I asked Dan if he was free to fish and while he wasn't his brother Tom was and I secured a reservation to float the Deerfield and tempt some fish.

I later discovered that Dan wasn't free because he's expecting his first child early next year. Tom divulged it will be a male of the species. Apparently he and his beloved were attending a birthing class. I think those classes are good primers for what to expect. The technique stuff -- breathing, etc. --- can be helpful though I also recall Ann speaking in tongues at certain times. I don't think that was part of the class but perhaps there's special literature for the women on that subject.

It wasn't too long ago (if fourteen years can be considered not too long ago) that Ann and I were doing the same thing. What strange times those were. Me, responsible for a human life other than my own. Scary shit. But it all worked out. We managed not to kill the little critter though more often than not we thought we were doing something wrong. We now have a pain in the ass teenager who seems no worse for the wear. And as Ann says, he can tell it to his therapist if it comes to that.

I'm sure Dan will be a fine father and wish him and his the best.

So on to the fishing. It was surprisingly good.

The weather gods shone upon us with a reasonably mild day (40ish in temp and no wind) and reasonably mild water with good flows and temps in the high 30s.

I'm not sure if Tom knows I like floating the upper river just below the dam or if he just chose that spot because the flows were good (or both) but that's where we started. There was just enough snow on the ground to make the boat slide down to the water easily (at least Tom made it look easy) but not enough to make the footing hazardous.

With the cold temps, we were nymphing. I decided to use Tom's Thomas and Thomas rods for no particular reason though I did want to try fishing the ten foot 5 wt to see if a ten or eleven foot rod really made a difference. In the end, I decided it did and have added a rod in excess of nine feet to my fly fishing wish list. Especially in the area of mending, the ten foot rod seemed to have a distinct advantage. I wasn't too thrilled with the action of the T&T rod and is was a fair amount heavier than the Orvis rod I would have fished normally.

New Mexican Worms and Eggs were on the menu and the fish seemed pleased. We put the first fish in the boat very quickly -- a nice Rainbow of no more than fourteen inches -- shaking off the ever present, lurking skunk.

Does this large net make my fish look small?
The yellow egg does the trick.

The fishing for the remainder of the morning was sporadic. We'd get a few fish and then have spells of nothin'. The fish generally were in the deep seams of the pools. The rig we were fishing was heavily weighted and the indicator was at the very top of a nine foot leader. Strikes were difficult to detect and I missed at least as many as I hit.

The first few fish were especially challenging as they charged the boat. It was a mad scramble to keep tension on the line and lever the ten foot rod behind me, It must have been quite a comical sight. Comedy aside, we put about half a dozen Rainbows in the boat before lunch which exceeded my expectations in every way.
Fly fishing isn't so much about the fish as it
is about the places you go, the people you're with, and
the things that you feel.

After lunch we had a brief period of relatively stupid fish. In cold water, the conventional wisdom is fish don't move much. It takes too much energy to chase food when you're cold and stiff. Of course, the trout don't read those books. The strike indicator -- a pink Thingamabobber -- was hit by no less than three fish. One came up for a look, circled around for another look, and then came back with a vicious strike. I've got to imagine he pretty much used every store of energy in his body just to take a whack at something that doesn't look very food-like. It got us thinking a trailing hook on the indicator was a product innovation worth trying.

Of course, after the first fish hit the indicator we rigged up a rod with a large foam hopper. We tried to tempt the fish to the surface a second time without luck. Probably because the fish succumbed to the cold after wasting energy on the initial strike. Or maybe they just learned the hard way.

Tom did all the hard work including tying on
flies with cold hands. A great guide.

The pink San Juan Worm continued to be the winner in the afternoon though the egg and a few bright green midges that I had tied worked as well. Double digit fish in the boat and just shy of twenty on the line. One couldn't ask for a better December day on the water.

I'm still waiting for a delivery of fly tying stuff. Mostly more small stuff to make midges with but soon I'll have to inventory the fly boxes and tie up more of what's missing. Winter is the time for tying. And fishing, occasionally, if you can master the cold and the calendar.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Haunted by Midges

Over the past two weeks I've been day dreaming about midge nymphs. In fact, during those moments when I needed a quick break from a chore or a conference call I've managed to tie a few dozen small flies. But still I just can't get small hooks, sparsely adorned out of my brain. I've taken to ordering a supply of small hooks, beads and sparse adornments because I don't have just the right size glass bead or the right color of wire. It's a malady that strikes all but the most strong willed tier -- the need for additional tying stuff.

It helps that it's small fly time of year here in the Northeast. And that the last time I was on the Housatonic, small flies worked almost as good as eggs. And with egg season waning the time for serious small flies is upon us. I've started with #18 and #20 sized hooks but before I'm done will tie in a good supply of #22s and #24s. When you're going small, you really have to commit to going small.
A sample from Midgeapalooza
Most of my midge arsenal features a bead of some sort -- small glass beads are my current favorite -- along with a thread or wire body. All thread bodies get adornment of either a copper, red, or chartreuse brassie sized wire. The fancy ones get a peacock herl abdomen or a sparkle wing case. Even fancier are those with a small tube body though I think those are designed more to catch a fly tier than a fish.

What surprised me when I started tying these small flies was how varied I was able to make the little critters. When tying sized #14 flies, there's plenty of hook real estate upon which to experiment and be creative. Not so with size #20 hook. Yet the small box I have is filled with a kaleidoscope of mini trout treats.

This weekend I gambled that the weather would cooperate and that some trout would come out to play in cold waters up north. The midges did their part though eggs and worms were the star performers. More to report later.

Friday, December 3, 2010


It's a slow Friday, which means I have less than a dozen conference calls on the calendar. Thus I actually can take a civilized break for lunch. Which means eating and web surfing and maybe even a bit more of midgapalooza -- epic midge fly tying.

Over on Fishpond's Facebook page they're running a twelve days of Christmas promotion where each day they ask a different questions. Yesterday's question was above favorite fishing quotes from either literature or movies. A few of my favorites are below.

The winner

"All the romance of trout fishing exists in the mind of the angler and is no way shared by the fish." Harold F. Blaisdell, The Philosophical Fisherman

Other notable entries

There’s a fine line in between fishing and just standing about the shore like an idiot. – Steven Wright

"I'm not gonna lie. He's a world champion peckerwood. Bait fisherman? He didn't say. Good Lord! George. He's going to show up with a coffee can full of worms. Red can. Hills Brothers. I'll lay a bet on it." - A River Runs through it ( Norman Maclean

"A friend tells this story about a fly fisher's wife: Before they were married, the man told her, truthfully, "I don't drink, take drugs, gamble of chase women, but I do fly fish." Two years later the woman was heard to say," It sounded good at first, but now I wish he did some of those other things instead."- John Gierach from "Even Brook Trout Get the Blues: Trout Candy" , 1992

"I've gone fishing thousands of times in my life, and I have never once felt unlucky or poorly paid for those hours on the water." William Tapply "A Fly-Fishing Life"

"I look into ... my fly box, and think about all the elements I should consider in choosing the perfect fly: water temperature, what stage of development the bugs are in, what the fish are eating right now. Then I remember what a guide told me: 'Ninety percent of what a trout eats is brown and fuzzy and about five-eighths
of an inch long.'"
~by Allison Moir, "Love the Man, Love the Fly Rod", in A Different Angle: Fly Fishing Stories by Women~

"There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process.
-Paul O'Neil --1965

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Turkey Sandwiches & Fruitcake

Black Friday started with the patter of rain against the skylights in the bedroom. Fortunately, it was the gentle tap of rain that telegraphed "no impact" to river levels. The ground and small streams would absorb the run-off and it would easily be twenty-four hours before the Housatonic saw any effect, if at all.

Even before I got out of bed I knew that the river was running at just over 800 cfs and the spitting rain would end soon yielding perfect blue wing olive weather. Technology certainly has taken some of the wonder out of the sport.

I met Jon at the commuter lot in Danbury and we drove together to Starbucks and then on to Housatonic Meadows to meet up with Don. We expected to be nymphing all day and Torrey recommended egg patterns when we stopped by the shop on our way up.

The day started of slow for Jon and I as we worked to find the right water and dial in the right fly combo. Don had things under control with a couple of fish to hand in the first hour or so. The pink egg and the red Brassie worked well and that was to be the pattern for the day -- eggs and midges. Jon and I struck out at the first spot but our fortune soon turned.

Catch and Release
Noon came far too quickly but because of a late start we had only been on the water for about two hours. Jon came through with an awesome packed lunch of turkey & stuffing sandwiches and fruitcake. It is my opinion that the day after Thanksgiving, leftovers are at their best. One hasn't yet become sick of the monotony of turkey, turkey, turkey. Stuffing has a delightful texture and taste that can only be achieved after sitting in the fridge overnight securely in Tupperware or, ideally, in its original serving container covered with tin foil.

Don shared a new piece of water with us after lunch. He had good intel on how to wade it and where the fish were hiding. The wade was tricky for those unaccustomed to such things but we were able to find solid footing from which to begin our assault on the trout bastions.

We were all into fish in this spot. Don again was high man and the midge and egg, in both pink and yellow, were king. Surprisingly, I didn't get any interest in the heavily weighted Yellow Stonefly that was my upper fly. Last year, same day, the Yellow Stonefly was the go-to fly. I suppose the super low flows this past summer had taken it's toll on the stonefly population much as it did with the trout but we were happy to find flies that did the trick. My favorite fish on this run was a thirteen inch rainbow that spent more time in the air than it did in the water. With the forty-three degree water numbing our toes we gathered stream side to determine next steps.

My first fish of the day

Don demonstrated his nymphing prowess picking up fish throughout this pool.
Don decided to call it a day and Jon and I were determined to finish the day on a piece of water up north that has become the traditional "last hole" of any trip to the Housy.

Jon and I agreed that the structure of the hole had shifted slightly since our last visit. The slot seemed shallower. In fact, in maneuvering to what I thought was the seam near the ideal holding location I actually ended up standing in the ideal holding location. I did manage at least one tug on the line but decided to regroup a little lower in the run to spot I erroneously thought was fishier.

Jon, much like last year, demonstrated why this was one of his favorite pieces of water. His first fish was a very healthy Brown -- thick and long. The fish was a bit uncooperative for the standard grip and grin photo but we did manage a quick photo as Jon wrestled with him. He then followed that up by catching the twin brother of the first and then a sprightly Rainbow.

Jon with the best fish of the day

It was only 3:30 p.m. but the sun had dipped below the hillside, the clouds had cleared and the temperature had dropped about ten degrees into the low 40s. It was a good day of fishing and it was time to go.

There aren't too many fishing days left in this year but I may sneak out again when the women-folk gather for the day of cookie baking in mid-December.

I can't really complain. This has been a good year.

Like most years there's been far too little fishing and far too much work. But the paycheck has been steady, the work interesting and we made good use of vacation time to try and reconnect with our two boys who are growing too damn quickly.

In this season of thanks, I'm thankful for a spouse who accommodates my fishing habit and ensures that the important things in life remain my priorities. I'm thankful for two friends always willing to share good water and for trout willing to take a fly and return to the waters until that time when we're ready to play again.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

826 cfs


There will be rain tomorrow, but the fish won't mind.

Playing Hookey

I had booked yesterday as a vacation day but had so much work backed up that I planned on sitting at the desk most of the day getting caught up. Without the structure of back-to-back meetings my mind wandered. I scheduled lunch with Ann, puttered about the house, surfed the web and basically did everything I could to avoid the work that I had set about to do earlier.

After lunch, with a car full of fly fishing gear, I decided that a quick swing by a small stream near the house was in order. Of course, it was purely for scientific purposes. The water had been barely a trickle all summer and I wondered if any trout had managed to survive in some deep cool spot.

The wind was howling as I came down to the stream. I tried to fish the usual runs along a farmer's field but the wind gusting across those fields made casting a nightmare. My flies spent more time in the stream side bushes than they did in the water.

With frustration building I decided it was time for a cigar and a rest out of the wind. I marched upstream to a more sheltered spot with the stream took a turn up a valley. With a Hemingway well lit I proceeded to work up Corner Hole Pool. This delightful piece of water can hold fish through out so it's important to work it from the tail to plunge at the head.

Corner Hole
The tail held nuttin but by the time I had worked to the head I had managed a few strikes on a PT dropper and brought a ten inch  Brown to the lip of the net before he shook off.

I felt like I had caught a hypochondriac trout. As soon as he was hooked he went into "I gonna die! I'M GONNA DIE! I'M DEAD!' mode. The fight was lackluster and even when he shook the hook he laid there on his side floating in the water. I could just hear him thinking "I'M DEAD! WOE IS ME!". As soon as I realized he wasn't swimming away I went to net him again and that's when he came to life and scurried upstream to nestle beside a rock in the water. Strangeness.

Brookie Run
With the light fading -- had I really been on the water for three hours already? -- I moved up to a piece of water I call Brookie Run. It's relatively shallow water with a cobble bottom. It's water that looks, at first glance, to be too shallow to be good holding water. However, the softball and basketball sized rocks on it's bottom have plenty of nooks and crannies in which fish can shelter.

The PT brought a small brown to hand, all three inches of him, about mid-way up the run but I otherwise went fishless all the way up to the riffle.

I was happy to see trout in the stream though catching a Brookie would have been a bonus. Their population hasn't fared well over the past couple of years though a wild population of Browns and an occasional Rainbow seem to be doing okay.

I'm going up to the Housatonic on Friday with a bunch of good friends. Looking forward to the camaraderie of this annual post-Thanksgiving trip. Even if the fishing is poor the day will be most excellent.

Tip of the Day: Tom Rosenbauer had recommended over weighting small stream rods so they load quicker. Today I gave that a try with a 5wt line on my 7 foot 4 wt rod. Worked like a charm. Definitely recommend this to all small stream junkies.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cold Fingers

The cold weather fishing season snuck up on me.

When I last fished, almost a month ago, I was still fishing in a shirt. Sure, it got down into the mid-50s by the time I left the water, but it was tolerable in that "I'm not going to whine about anything whilst fishing" sort of way.

Yesterday afternoon was different. The temperature gauge in the car read "48" on the drive up and was hovering in the lower 40s by the time I pulled off a small road and suited up for the walk to the river. I had all the cold weather gear I required and wore fleece pants to stave off the cold of the tail water. I also layered above to make sure I didn't get a chill. However, I drew the line at fingerless gloves and a knit cap. Mentally, my brain said you don't need gloves in October. Of course, it's not October anymore. I should have brought them along.

I can guess what the ache and inflexible fingers of an eighty year old arthritic feel like because I have tried to tie a Surgeon's Loop in 5X tippet when my fingers absolutely refuse to work. It wasn't that cold (38 degrees by the time I returned to the car), but I did get the message; next time bring gloves (and perhaps a hat).

The fishing was not good. I got on the water late just as the sun was moving below the valley wall. Any hope of their warming rays was gone though the valley wasn't so deep that it got dark early. It just got dim.

There was a steady BWO hatch coming off the river though I only saw a single rise in the two hours I fished. The flies were those micro #24 or smaller flies that are best imitated with a small hook with thread for a body. I fished the likely spots with a nymph rig fishing a golden stonefly, a pink egg, zebra midge, caddis larvae, brassie and probably a half dozen other flies.

Not so much as a tug.

I did have a fine cigar.

And it was nice to be back out on the river after so long on the road and so many hours in front of the computer and on the phone.

This Friday I'll be on the Housatonic with a bunch of close friends for our annual Black Friday mall avoidance trip. The weather is sure to be gray and cool. But that's what winter fishing is all about. I'll bring the gloves this time.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Water, water everywhere and not a rod to spare

I can see the Danube lots and lots of leaves from my backyard.

I can't see any water from my house but I've seen a bunch of water over the past two weeks, mostly the Danube River. I haven't seen anyone fishing much less done any fishing myself. This weekend will surely be filled with all those things one doesn't get to do while traveling on business. Sleeping. Raking leaves. Etc.

I recommend Budapest as a place to spend a long weekend. Beautiful city even though I didn't see a single fly shop.

No one fishing the Danube.

Bratislava should be skipped by anyone who doesn't appreciate overcooked pork. They'll over cook anything that comes from a pig. I think they discovered Pork Jerky and just don't know it. For those looking for a home away from home whilst in Bratislava, The Dubliner has ample Guinness on tap and Steak cooked western (Europe) style. Definitely recommend it as a haunt.

Slovakian fisherman emerging from the river.

While roaming about not fishing I've stayed sane by visiting my friends at the Trout Underground, Singlebarbed and OrvisNews.

Inspired by some discussion re: Tom's quiz I created the following short video.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Walking by the water

Walked by the Housy today with Ann and Ripley. It was a trail that I'd not been on before but one that was rumored to have some pretty water. That rumor I can confirm. The water looked very trouty though in this locale the stream looses a bit of it's riffle-run-pool structure and becomes a broader, hard-to-read (at least for me) expanse of water.

I fished a bit as we walked though there was not so much as a hint of a trout to be had. Of course, there were ample consolations for the lack of trout. There was deeper conversation than our normal transient lives afford. I watched a goofy, four year old lab finally begin to figure out that water ain't so bad. I smoked a fine cigar and had a nip of the Highlands' best while admiring Autumn's splendor.

Fall in New England. Simply, splendid.

Faith and Fly Fishing

We often use spiritual terms to discuss our past-time (hobby seems like the wrong word) and an excellent article by Sarah Rossiter which contemplates the parallels of spirituality and fishing. Her article brings forward this particularly poignant quote from the past.
"… You must not fish for covetousness or to save money, but principally for your solace and to promote the health of your body and specially of your soul. For when you go fishing you will not want others with you as they will distract you. And then you may serve God with devotion in effectively saying your customary prayers."
— "A Treatyse of Fysshynge With An Angle" by Dame Juliana Berners, 1496
Happy Sunday.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Keep the water where it belongs

The waters of our state are abused in all manner of ways by everyone from the divine (Lord, would it have killed you to send us a little rain this summer) to the mundane.

Comstock Brook one mile downstream of the water company. Upstream it flows robustly.

Unlike the west where a majority of the water goes to big interests -- agriculture, power, flood control -- in the east it just gets used up a bucketful at a time. Despite the economic climate, pressure continues on our small river habitat as housing developments, golf courses and other human endeavors tap into our surface and ground water.

The State of Connecticut is working diligently to revise its stream flow regulations in this important area though slowly but surely water companies and business interests are using the excuse of the poor economic environment as a reason to slow or halt action in this area.

If you live in CT, get involved. Write your reps to move the ball in the correct direction.

A must read report from Trout Unlimited: The Future of Water In New England

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fishing Report from the state looks good.

10/21 CT DEP Report

This weekend has some potential!

I love fall fishing. I love this time of the year. Aggressive fish ready to spawn. Sweaters. No sweating. Foliage. Enough water in the rivers. The last hurrah before the gray of winter descends.

This weekend looks like it will be a fine one to be on the water. The Housy's flows are damn near perfect.

800-900 cfs is thesweet spot.
The weather forecast for up north is near perfect. A little cloudy weather on Sunday may bring out the BWOs. Otherwise, some nymphing and swinging bright streamers on a sinking line are in order. Where are my WD40s?

Sunday looks promising!
Some many piscatorial possibilities. Of course, between me and the trout there's the run to the dry cleaners, cleaning the bathrooms, nagging the boys to clean their bedrooms and I can't see the driveway or lawn because of all the fallen leaves. Much to do (including a wine tasting at Ross' on Saturday) but perhaps at the end of the weekend there will be some line wetting and, the fish gods willing, some tugging on the line.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Farm Pond

The old farm pond down the road is starting to put on its Autumnal finest. The water is back up after a dry summer, the hatches of insects are winding down and the pageantry of autumn is appearing along its banks.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Yeah, I've been fishing. For skunk.

I've been insanely busy with family, work, TU . And some other things non-fishing related. But I have been fishing.

Two weeks. Two trips. Five hours of fishing. Three flies lost. One hipper boot punctured. Zero fish landed.

This all started two weeks ago with a hike (fisherman know it as a scouting trip) with my beloved spouse. That hike allowed me to admire some low water, take some photographs, and actually see trout scurrying for the little cover that was present. Which planted the seed for a fishing trip.

Low Flow. Bones of the River.

Fast forward to a week or so ago. Rains put water into the rivers and the siren's song of water running over rocks called. Out I went. The water was still a bit high and stained but I just couldn't resist. Large, flashy flies were the order of the day. No strikes were to be had on the dry but a dropper managed a few tugs on the line just not enough of a tug to get something to the net. Not the desired outcome but it was a joy to be standing in moving water again.
Same spot after two days of rain.

This past weekend I fished the lower Trout Management Area on the Housy. I've fished that water once before and didn't see, hear, or smell a trout much less catch one. Sunday evening was a repeat of that feat. I know the water is well stocked but based upon the stream-side detritus it also appears well poached. That, combined with the low water, probably has led to the paucity of fish. That or just a plain lack of skill and/or luck.

Pretty River. If only there were trout.

Regardless, it was nice to be on the water with a cigar and a flask of scotch. Really pretty evening. The bonus was seeing water surging along the stream bed after a summer of trickles.

Do these waders make me look fat?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Book Review (of sorts): The Alaska Chronicles

Back in 2007, Miles Nolte, under the handle "Gaper" posted his experience as a second year fly fishing guide in Alaska on The Drake's forum. That collection of stories, thoughts and rants has now been compiled into a book, The Alaska Chronicles.

I've always been interested in the idea of being a fly fishing guide though I appreciate the reality is far different than any fantasy one might have about the profession. Long days. Idiot "sports". Uncooperative fish. Broken equipment. Annoying co-workers.

Of course, the view from the office is generally more inspiring that the one most of us have every day.

The book is a great read and well worth the purchase price. I think I got through it in a day so it's definitely in the "quick read" category.

I would have liked this booked better if he had supplemented his original writings about "what he did today" with some inside facts about the trade. For example, does he have to bring his own rods and reels or does the lodge supply that? How'd he train for this line of work? That sort of stuff gives some context to the brutal grind that he documents so well in the book.

Anyway, I recommend you get a copy.

On my bookshelf: The Alaska Chronicles: An Unwashed View of Life, Work, and Fly Fishing

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dog bites flies?

"Dog bites man." Not a story. "Man bites Dog", well that's news. "Dog bites flies!" That's a recipe for a huge bill at the veterinarian.

Dog bites flies!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Doctor of the Double Haul

Where were these electives when I was in college?

Better yet, why wasn't I informed that this job was open?

UNH offers course on fly fishing


Okay, so Bill Ross (Genius) is an enviable guy. Job in academia (how hard can that be?). Lots of time for fly fishing during the summer no doubt. Basically a librarian (see previous snarky comment). Probably reads ancient tomes on fly fishing all day.

AND NOW TO ADD INSULT TO INJURY, he's teaching a college course in fly fishing. Has the man no decency?!

I salute you, Bill. You're living the dream.

Hanging around my neckDr. Slick Lanyard

Monday, September 27, 2010

The trout (and those damn bugs) are onto my minimalist approach

There are days, thankfully rare, that I do everything I can to avoid catching fish. Saturday was one of those days.

These days usually begin well in advance with some ideas about what will be hatching garnered from internet reports and stream-side smoke signals. This is followed by some time at the vise putting together the perfect fly with accompanying size, color and shape variations.

The final touches on the self deception are covered during the ride up where I presuppose where the fish will be located thus dictating where I will fish that day and I further presuppose when they'll be active and, finally, what they'll be eating (see flies tied at vise). Heck, since I know what's what, I'm not even going to head to the water until 4 pm cause I won't need any time to get things dialed in.

All this delusion is further abetted by my recent minimalism approach. Who needs a vest when you know what's happening? A small fly box. A lanyard with the right tools. Waders. Flask. Cigars. Done.

Well, as I approached the river I noted several rather large stoneflies who were doing their egg laying dance. And while trout rarely rise to grab those big suckers, eventually they die and an nice drowned PMX or Bugmeister would have been just the thing to tempt a large trout. But of course, I had no PMX or Bugmeister cause they were in the fly boxes in my vest left, not in the car, but at home in the garage. Nice.

So, I proceed to work the water with thems that I brung. I manage two Salmon Parr and a really nice rise from a fat trout that took my fly to the deep with him. He broke me off cleanly at the tippet knot. It was probably due to the hookset that would be more appropriate for a Tarpon than a trout.

As the evening gloom approached I realized that I didn't have my light with me (also back in the garage) nor did I have a Wooley Bugger or feather streamer to tempt the lock jawed trout (yup, garage).

So, in the dwindling light I tie on an emerger pattern that's worked well for me recently and get a few strikes but no solid hookups. At least some action comes my way despite my pig-headedness.

I really like the minimalist approach to fishing. It's refreshing to not be carrying all the bulk. However, in the future, I'm going to make sure all my crap is at least in the car. When those Stoneflies are dancing, I'm gonna be ready. Unless, of course, they're not.

I wish this were in my vest: Pentax Optio W90 12.1 MP Waterproof Digital Camera with 5x Wide Angle Zoom and 2.7-Inch LCD (Pistachio Green)

Friday, September 24, 2010


With these low flows in our streams the impact of man is evident. The gauge below is about a mile downstream of a sewage treatment plant.

On my bookshelf: Fly Tying For Beginners: How to Tie 50 Failsafe Flies

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I knew it! Fly Fishing is a holy endeavor!

On my bookshelf:Nymphs Volume I: The Mayflies: The Major Species

    A fly fishing movie that has characters other than fish?!

    If this is half as good as the trailer this may actually be a fishing film I could get my wife to watch. It focuses not only on the fishing but also on the fisherman (yeah, not fisherpersons, it's about two guys). Of course, all the good parts could be in the trailer and the whole thing could be complete trash. That said, it's got a wonderful look and two interesting characters.

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Small Flies

    So those tiny flying ants that sated the trout and tormented me last weekend were the object being mimicked on my tying bench last night. Behold the #22 Ant fly. I even have a fancy version with a CDC wing, but I don't think the trout will care.

    Ant. #22

    On my bookshelf: Caddisflies: A Guide to Eastern Species for Anglers and Other Naturalists

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Farmington River, 9.19

    Ann had been nursing a cold this weekend and needed to get out so we took a drive up to the Farmington. I brought along both the camera and a basic fishing kit (hippers/rod & reel/lanyard). If the light was good I hoped to get some practice with the camera. If not, perhaps a wee bit of fishing.

    Even though it was very overcast on the drive up, we arrived with some sun poking through the clouds imparting a late afternoon glow to the river scene. The clouds were parted for about fifteen minutes but then they just washed back in giving way to the flat, dull gray light that just doesn't do the majestic river any justice.

    So, out came the rod and on went the hippers. Having only a brief time on the water I grabbed a small fly box from my bag and threw on the lanyard.

    As I approached the water three ladies and a guide were coming off the water. The guide recommended a small ant. I had several with me so I was confident that I'd be able to get some action going. Of course, when I got to the water I realized that I had picked up the wrong small fly box. I had spinners, a couple of emergers and some small nymphs. Pressed for time I decided to fish with what I had in hand. 

    Ann walked our Lab for a bit while I got about thirty minutes of casting practice. Before she departed she pointed out a Bald Eagle as it swooped low through the valley and perched on a tree towards the tail of the pool. It's hard to believe that when I was a kid DDT had so ravaged the population of raptors that an Eagle was something that I didn't think I'd see in my lifetime. Now they're almost a common sight in the Farmington Valley. They're a real testament to how people can get together and protect and conserve those things that are important to us.

    The fish were doing a porpoising rise so I chose an emerger with a small PT dropper. On the second or third cast I got solid whack at the emerger and managed a nice fourteen inch wild Brown to the net. I had hooked him in the base of the pectoral fin so either my hookset was late or he veered off at the last moment. Either way, it was a very pretty fish.

    I cast a couple more times to the splashy rises that were growing more frequent but got no interest in either the emerger or the dropper. I then switched to a caddis puppa with the same PT nymph off the hook bend. That got me two fish on but both dropped off after a short while. Ann returned and as the light began to fall the water got more crowded so I called it a day.

    This is perfect weather to fish. The evenings are becoming crisp and while the days are shorter the fishing is good. I enjoy spring fishing, especially after a long winter, but late summer and fall fishing have a special charm all their own. Perhaps it's the urgency to get in some time on the water before the weather closes in.  Maybe it's just that I like wearing sweaters. Regardless, fall is a special time.

    Working downstream

    Before the hatch

    On my Fly Tying Bench: The Fly Tier's Benchside Reference

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    On the water, Deerfield River, 9.12

    It's been far too long since I wet a line in trouty environs but low water levels have prevented those short trips to local waters that usually fill my summers. Unfortunately, there's just been no time/energy to travel more broadly with any frequency so yesterday was the first time in almost a month that I'd fished for trout. So, a special trip was in order and that meant a call to Dan Harrison.

    The Harrison brothers guide up on the Deerfield River so the boys, myself and my best buddy Ross drove north early on Sunday. I've fished and hunted with the Harrisons a bunch of times over the past couple years and can't say enough about their skills as guides. More than anything, they're good people. It's fishing, so some days are good and others are mediocre (I'm reluctant to say that I've never been skunked fishing with them so as not to jinx myself so consider it unsaid) but regardless, Tom and Dan are great people to fish with on some very pretty and trouty water.

    The weather report threatened rain but we managed to avoid it. It was cooler than I would have expected but we had packed layers and that didn't detract from the fishing. The water was low, but not too low. The Deerfield is a tailwater so like the Farmington it gets cool water year-round. It's also a power generation tailwater so it gets a regular surge of water. Not quite the pond and release regime the Housy used to see but it does go through the daily up and down cycle.

    The day for myself started out slow with nothing to the net at mid-day but everyone else was into fish with the friendly boat vs boat competition dead even at lunch (well maybe one of the boats was ahead of the other but I did mention it was a friendly competition, didn't I?). 

    While we did have an odd Smallmouth or two (those ten inch Smallmouth fight like a trout at least 50% bigger) including the smallest I've ever seen taken on the fly (congrats to Ross), the largest Sucker I've ever seen (20"+, congrats to Sam for dragging the beast to the net), a tiny Shad (scored by Chris and generally referred to, and utilized as, bait) all the trout we caught were rainbows and all fat, chunky and in the 13"-18" range.

    Most of the fish, perhaps all of the fish, came nymphing a variety of nymphs. Mixing it up was the name of the game and we worked hard for the fish. There was no hatch to speak of though towards evening we did see a fairly regular light hatch of a small cream colored mayfly. The weather seemed ideal for BWOs but none appeared. Oh well.

    The boys surprised me and stuck with the fly rods all day. During one particularly slow period we did resort to some "non-fly fishing" methods to try and tempt the trout but there was no reward for the dark side (well, actually, there was one nice Rainbow who went into the cooler) and we went back to more traditional methods.

    We ended the day with a tie -- both boats had netted the same number of trout and the difference between high guy and low guy was one fish so we had all caught around the same number of trout. We couldn't have planned that result better if we tried.

    A few photos from the day.

    Chris looking mildly pleased with himself.
    First of several in the net for Sam
    My best of the day, 17.5 inches. 1/2 inch too short....
    More smiles
    Sam fighting a monster Sucker
    The Sucker!
    Dan at the net. Chris keeping his head down. Ross fighting an 18" bow. Best of the trip.
    I got action late in the day.
    Another Bow
    Myself, Tom, and Sam

    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    Rain, Sweet Rain

    Well, today's trout fishing trip washed out. But I certainly don't mind as we have a dire need for water in the rivers and streams. Hopefully when I return from Atlanta the streams will be full and the trout willing.

    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    Madison, Gallatin and Cutty Creek

    Going out to Yellowstone with the family presented a great opportunity to fish some of the classic waters that form near the junction of the Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. There were almost too many to chose from so I created two conditions: 1) I wanted a trip were the whole family could participate and 2) I wanted a chance at a Cutthroat. Dick Green at Bud Lilly's Trout Shop recommended a wade trip on the Gallatin which seemed just fine.

    The whole family started the day fishing the Madison river. Ann was along to photograph, check out the flora and fauna and the boys were going to do some fishing. The day started cool and foggy with a threat of rain. Chris managed a small Brown and another one that LDR'd while nymphing. I managed about a dozen fish on. Three LDR'd, one a nice Rainbow, and I got a bunch of Rocky Mountain Whitefish to the net the biggest of which was around fourteen inches. Big and Fat. They look and fight much like a large dace - big fight for about thirty seconds then dead weight to be reeled in. All fish came on nymphs either a Prince or a small Caddis Larva.

    Chris, Sam and Travis

    Sam taking a break

    We then headed over to the Gallatin River and fished there for an hour or so. There I managed two Rainbows, one a nice fat one of about fourteen inches, on a Flashback Hares Ear nymph. Chris sat streamside taking it all in (and sneaking a game on his iPhone) and Sam worked some water upstream without any luck. Ann got a picture of the big Rainbow but she still hasn't shared it with me. The Gallatin is a real pretty freestone stream and I could definitely spend a day just working from run to run. Real pretty and the access is easy.

    The Gallatin River
    We took a lunch break at a nearby picnic area. The box lunch from Ernie's Deli in West Yellowstone made such an impression that we made sure that we stopped in there every day thereafter on the way into the park. The food within the park is universally awful.

    I had mentioned to Travis earlier in the day that my goal was to catch a Cutthroat Trout. He mentioned that the waters we would be fishing wouldn't likely be Cutthroat water. However, he mentioned that there was one small stream that might yield a Cutthroat but it would be a hike. The family agreed that it would be a fun adventure so we left the Gallatin behind and set out to this new stream.

    The creek, let's call it Cutty Creek, crossed the road in several places but the spot that he felt would give us the highest likelihood of catching a cutty was well off the beaten path where the stream took a long detour into a deep canyon.

    To get to the canyon we hiked about a quarter mile across a field and forest to an abandoned roadbed that you couldn't see from the main road. The forest in this area had clearly burned at some point in the past decade or two and the trip was slowed by having to climb over many fallen trees. This was to be a theme for the remainder of the trip.

    One thing I've never heard from a guide was a briefing on bears. The particular creek we were fishing was located in the Grizzly Bear Management Area. Fortunately we didn't have an encounter with a bear but Ann and Travis were both carrying the large pepper sprays that are allegedly effective when faced with bear trouble.

    An abandoned roadbed made the walk in bit easier as we climbed and then followed the ridge above the canyon. Once we were well into the canyon we scrambled down the canyon wall to the floor. The trip down the steep slope was challenging but the entire clan handled it like a trooper. I fished at the first set of pools and managed a couple of small Rainbows and my first CutBow -- a Rainbow Cutthroat hybrid. The fish came to either a Royal Wulff dry or the dropper below -- I switched between a small prince for a zug bug. They seemed to work equally well.

    I also managed a few wild Rainbows in this stretch from six inches to about eight inches. All beautiful fish who slashed at the flies with abandon.

    Cutbow Water
    We climbed above the waterfall in the picture above and bushwhacked our way through some pretty tough willows and deadfalls. We worked a bunch of pools including one where I managed a rainbow and Chris managed a Cutbow to the net. Sam fished the same pool and managed to get one fish on but it shook the hook.

    We continued to work upstream at times wading along the banks, at times scrambling over deadfalls and at time seeking any path through the canyon's maze.

    Ann streamside
    Sam, Chris and Travis preparing to fish
    A wild Rainbow
    Reminders of the forces that shape the landscape
    Scrambling uphill to find a way through
    And back down when the way is blocked

    Chris' CutBow
    Streamside Fishin' Family Foto
    A representative deadfall
    Sam leading the way down one scramble
    As we progressed towards the upstream end of the canyon I fished every likely run and pool. The water here was at a fairly steep gradient so it was more pocket water than anything else. I got a few slashes and one fish on but nothing came to the net.

    Towards the end of the day we came upon a most spectacular pool. Long, deep and moving just fast enough to keep the trout from getting too good a look at the fly. The family halted streamside so I could get a few casts on the pool before we marched through. The first drift I got a hard strike on the bushy Royal Wulff fly and landed an eight inch Cutthroat. Mission accomplished! (as in I achieved my objective, not in the George W. Bush victory in Afghanistan way).

    Finally, a Cutthroat
    We ended the day working out way out of the upstream end of the canyon and across a large willow filed through which the creek meandered. All told, we probably covered about a mile and a half but the up and down, crawling around certainly made if feel longer. It was a great day of fishing and it was a special treat to have the family along.

    The remainder of the trip provided some brief stops along the Madison and Gibbon Rivers. I managed a few small browns but nothing spectacular. I was very eager to get back and fish a bit of the Lamar and Soda Butte Creek which we had seen the first day. However, in order to get out to the northeast side of the park we would have had to go through a one-lane construction zone that would require up to an hour wait going in each direction. I can get traffic at home.
    The upstream end of the canyon